There are really only 4 strategies for dealing with a disaster that disrupts the food supply:
(1) store a wide range of different foods
(2) buy whatever foods are still available
(3) hunting, fishing, gathering food from nature
(4) produce your own food
And you can’t rely on only one of those options. All preppers should have a good amount of stored food, including plenty of vegetable oil (the most neglected stored food). But if a disaster affects the food supply long-term, eventually you run out of stored food.
I suppose that in all but the most severe TEOTWAWKI disasters some food will still be available for purchase, at much higher prices, with sporadic availability. But whenever some food is available, we might as well buy it. Certain foods are difficult to store long-term or to produce on our own, such as milk, cheese, butter, meat, fish, poultry. When available, buy these even at high prices.
Whether or not you can get a significant amount of food from hunting, fishing, and gathering depends on where you live. But even in rural areas, I imagine that the area will be depleted of game and edible plants after a short period of time. You won’t be able to get all of your food in this way unless you live in an extremely rural area.
But when it comes to producing your own food, a large backyard garden can be an important supplement to the three other sources of food. This blog has many posts on survival gardening. For now, I’d like to focus on which garden plants are best for survival. These would be the best seeds to store. You may already have a garden that you tend (when the ground is not buried in snow). But I suggest that you store more than the minimum amount of seed that you need for a year’s gardening. When the SHTF, you may want to expand your garden.
Also, gardening seeds make good bartering items. As soon as a food disaster strikes, everyone is going to get the bright idea to grow food in a garden. Then the usual seed sources will quickly sell out. Seeds for food plants will then command high prices, or a high value in barter transactions.
My top ten list of the best gardening seeds to store is based on the three macronutrients: protein, fat, and carbohydrates. You can’t live on salad fixings: lettuce, tomato, peppers, cucumbers, etc. Plants that provide substantial amounts of fat and/or protein and/or carbs should be your top priorities.
1. Amaranth – extremely high grow-out ratio (meaning that a small amount of seed produces a large amount of food); high in carbs and protein; a complete protein (all essential amino acids). Easy to grow and harvest. No hulling needed as the grain has no hulls. Cook it like rice.
2. Quinoa – good grow-out ratio; similar nutritional content to amaranth. No hulling needed. Remember to wash the harvested grain thoroughly to remove bitter saponin coating. Cook in excess of water. Rinse well after cooking.
3. Hulless pumpkin – seeds are good source of protein and fat; no hulling of seeds. Seeds store well.
4. Potato (true seed) – certain few varieties of potato can be grown from seed. These seeds store well, and after the first crop, you can save some of the potatoes to replant the next crop.
5. Carrot – carrots are not so different from potatoes in the amount of carbs and small amount of protein that they provide. They can be an important crop for survival.
6. Tigernut (chufa) – an unusual choice for a garden, but a good source of protein, fat, and carbohydrates; tigernut is a small tuber, that can be cooked and eaten like potato.
7. Corn (maize) – easy to grow and harvest; provides carbs and some protein.
8. Peanut – yes, you can grow your own peanuts; this food is high in protein and fat, and the harvested peanuts store well. Grow your own peanuts and make your own peanut butter! Raw peanuts in the shell, purchased at a grocery store will germinate and grow in a garden.
9. Soybeans – a good source of protein and fat; easy to grow and harvest
10. Assorted legumes (beans, peas, chickpeas, lentils) – any/all of these plants provide additional protein to your diet.
I cheated a little on the last item of the list, as it is a set of plants/seeds, not only one. But you can choose which legumes you prefer. They all are easy to grow and provide plenty of nutrition.